Known as the Liberator, Simón Bolívar was the greatest military leader of the independence armies in Colombia and much of northern South America. He was then president for over a decade. For his service, he was gifted a piece of land on the then rural outskirts of Bogotá. Today that land and its mansion is a museum open to the public. The Quinta de Bolívar is a neat museum that not only provides a chance to learn more about Bolívar but see some neat examples of early 19th century furniture and architecture. It is easily one of the neatest historic homes in Colombia. If you’d like to visit read on for a complete visitors guide to the Quinta de Bolívar in Bogotá.
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Who was Simón Bolívar?
First a little bit of history. Simón Bolívar is often called the Liberator or the George Washington of South America. That is because he played a decisive role as a military leader in the independence of modern day Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Ecuador, Bolivia (named after him), and Peru.
Born in Venezuela to a wealthy criollo family, Bolívar studied in Europe where he became acquainted with the ideas of the Enlightenment and decided to devote himself to the independence of his home and the rest of Spain’s colonies in the Americas.
Upon returning to Venezuela he played a role in the first major independence movement there. After its failure, he fled to Cartagena, where he issued his Cartagena Manifesto and emerged as one of the preeminent political voices in the independence movement.
He went on to distinguish himself in a series of military campaigns. These culminated in the decisive victory at the Battle of Boyacá in August 1819. After this victory, most of Colombia was independent with the exception of a few pockets of royalist resistance.
*See also: Liberation of Cartagena
After defeating the rest of the remaining royalist forces, the Republic of Gran Colombia was created. It included the modern day countries of Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, and Ecuador. Bolívar was named its president. He was gifted the plantation where the Quinta de Bolívar is today in Bogotá as a gift for his service in creating the new republic.
This union would be short lived as conflict broke out between Bolívar who favored a powerful centralized government and those who favored a decentralized federal system. By 1830, the union was in disarray, and Bolívar resigned his post. Gran Colombia officially dissolved into three separate republics (Panama would become independent from Colombia in the early 1900s) a year later.
Disillusioned, Bolívar died from tuberculosis in Santa Marta while on his way to exile in Europe.
History of the Quinta de Bolívar
The land was part of that donated to the sanctuary atop Monserrate hill in 1670. However, it was later sold to José Antonio Portocarrero, who built a rural holiday house on the site for the wife of the Spanish viceroy.
In 1820, the new independent government gifted the home to Bolívar. He used it only sporadically as a site of rest and refuge from his ongoing military campaigns and later political conflicts within the new republic. In fact, he only 423 days there during the 10 years he owned it.
He began to spend more time there, and the home became an important place for political meetings and social gatherings after Bolívar’s lover Manuela Sáenz came to live there in 1828. However, as Bolívar prepared to leave the dissolving republic, he gifted the property to José Ignacio París.
For the next 200 years, the home was used for a variety of purposes, including a school, a health center, and leather tannery. It was bought by the government in 1922 to be converted to a museum. It was declared a National Monument in 1975 and underwent a restoration from 1991 to 1998 that saw it returned to how it would have looked during Bolívar’s ownership.
What to See at the Quinta de Bolívar
The main attraction here is the architecture and furniture of the home, set up to look how it would have in the early 1800s. There are some neat examples of furniture, and you can imagine parties and political gatherings in these halls.
The grounds are also pretty. It’s a nice green space in the sprawling metropolis Bogotá has become. There are some pretty gardens on site as well.
Inside the gardens, there’s a plaza with a monument to Bolívar with the flags of all the countries Bolívar helped liberate. On one side of the house, there is also a neat exhibit on cannons, with a number of historic cannons on display.
How to Get to the Quinta de Bolívar
The Quinta de Bolívar is located very close to the entrance the hill of Monserrate. From the cable car stations to go up to Monserrate, cross the street and head down the hill on the flight of stairs and you will arrive to the property.
Visitor Information for the Quinta de Bolívar
- Tuesday-Friday: 9 am to 5 pm
- Saturday and Sunday: 10 am to 4 pm
- Closed on Mondays
- Cost of Admission:
- Adults: 4,000 pesos
- Students with ID: 3,000 pesos
- Children 5-12: 2,000 pesos
- Children under 5 and Seniors: free
- Free Entry for all visitors every Sunday
- Guided Tours
- Tuesday-Friday: 11 am and 3 pm
- Saturday: 11 am and 2 pm
- Estimated time to visit:
- 45 minutes-1 hour
- See the museum’s website here
There you have it, a complete visitors guide to the Quinta de Bolívar in Bogotá. It’s a neat site to visit especially if you are planning to go to Monserrate. If you do go, I hope you enjoy it and this guide helped you plan.
Cheers and Happy Exploring!
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You may also be interested in the following posts:
Explore Bogota’s Chapel in the Sky – Visitor’s Guide to Monserrate
Visitors Guide to the Bogotá Gold Museum
Simón Bolívar in Cartagena – A Critical Look at the Liberator’s Cartagena Manifesto
Visitors Guide to the Botero Museum in Bogotá
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